Game Buzz: Mauna Kea

When you have a game like Eclipse to your credit, people are going to take notice when you release a new design.  So, here’s

image by BGG user Gonzaga
image by BGG user Gonzaga

Mauna Kea is a new game from Finnish designer Touko Tahkokallio that is being released by German company HUCH! & Friends.  It’s a 45 minute game for 2-4 players that revolves around escaping from an exploding volcano on an island in the South Pacific.  Tahkakallio struck gold with Eclipse, but doesn’t have many other titles to his credit, so it will be interesting to see how this one works out.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The game comes with a board, 20 explorer meeples, 25 artifact cubes, 30 game cards, 118 square tiles (24 starting and 94 island), 8 boats, and a cloth bag.  The 24 starting tiles are randomly distributed to the indicated starting spaces, and players take turns placing explorers on the starting spaces.  The boats are randomly distributed to their spaces, and are kept face up.  Each player will take turns drawing one tile from the island bag and placing it face up in front of them.  You stop drawing when your tiles have 5 or more movement symbols on the tiles in front of you.

On a turn, you must place all of your tiles.  You can either use them to expand the terrain (face up in an empty space) or as movement (spend movement points to move to an orthogonally adjacent space – 1 per jungle and 2 per water).  If you ever move into a space with an artifact, you may take it.  You can’t have more than three artifacts per explorer.  When an explorer reaches a boat, he spends an action point to board.  He takes artifacts with him, leaving behind any that won’t fit on the boat.

After playing your tiles, you draw until you have at least five movement points again.  This time, if you draw a lava tile (which you set aside in the beginning), you must place it.  It goes adjacent to an existing lava flow with the matching symbol, going on top of any terrain tiles in the place.  Artifacts and explorers are lost.

The game ends when one player has no explorers left on the board.  All other players get one more turn, then the scoring happens.  Each explorer you rescued gets 3 points.  Each white-gray-black artifact gets 1-2-3 points.  For each unoccupied space on a boat, you lose a point.  The player with the most points wins.

After my big buildup about Tahkokallio being the designer of Eclipse, you may be surprised that that’s it.  It’s a very stripped down, more family friendly game that’s more about the tile placement than anything.  Initially when I heard about it, I thought it would be a lot like Survive: Escape from Atlantis, but it seems more like The Downfall of Pompeii, especially with the lava.  However, it looks like the lava flow cannot be controlled by the players – it will change up from game to game, but there’s not really anything you can do about it.  And I think this turns the game into more of a puzzle than anything.  You’re just trying to figure out how to get off with as many artifacts as possible.  Take that as you will – I don’t see many opportunities for interaction, but I guess I could be missing something.

Anyway.  There it is.  Thanks for reading!

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One comment

  1. Interaction is not really valued in the modern board game paradigm. Because, what is interaction really? Really, it’s screwing each other over. It’s fun to have some games where you get to really play out your strategy with little interference.

    This does sound like a fun family game. Thanks for sharing.

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